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A quick peek into your cat’s mouth reveals four pointed, razor-sharp teeth. But on a closer examination, you’ll discover that these cute, little furballs have numerous teeth for their relatively smaller mouths.
If you’ve always been wondering how many teeth cats have, this article is for you. We’ve prepared ten fun and enlightening facts about cat teeth you probably didn’t know until now.
Fact #1: Cats Have the Same Types of Teeth as Humans
Cats are obligate carnivores while humans are omnivores. But despite their different dietary preferences, cats and humans share the same teeth type. They include incisors, canines, pre-molars, and molars.
Incisors are the tiny teeth located in front of your cat’s mouth. These teeth are typically used for snipping, as is the case when a cat is nibbling on grass or plant leaves.
Canines are the longest and most visible teeth in a cat’s mouth. They’re almost unmissable, perhaps due to their enormous size and fang-like appearance.
Canines are used for biting into as well as grasping food. These teeth are also a cat’s primary artillery and are useful while hunting or fending off aggressors. In terms of location, canines sit right behind the incisors.
Pre-molars are the wide teeth located on either side of a cat’s jaw. A cat typically uses his pre-molars to grasp and bite prey. The teeth also help in chowing down on food.
One interesting fact about cat pre-molars is that cats have one fewer pre-molar on either side of their bottom jaw.
Located far back in the jaw are the molars. These teeth help in crunching hard foods, such as kibble. And contrary to popular belief, molars are smaller than pre-molars.
Fact #2: Like Humans, Cats Are Born Without Teeth
Another similarity between cats and humans, as far as teething is concerned, is that both are born without teeth.
Kitten teeth will start to emerge around the age of 2 – 3 weeks. These teeth are known as deciduous, milk, or baby teeth.
Incisors are usually the first milk teeth to emerge. Canines follow soon after, and then pre-molars appear later on. Cats do not have deciduous molars.
Fact #3: Kittens Have Fewer Teeth Than Adult Cats
We’ve just pointed out that cats do not develop deciduous molars. That automatically means that a kitten’s teeth are fewer than those of adult cats.
In general, kittens have 12 incisors, 4 canines, and 10 pre-molars. That sums up to 26 teeth.
For comparison, adult cats have 4 molars in addition to the same number of deciduous teeth in kittens. That brings the total number of teeth in mature cats to 30.
Fact #4: Cats Experience Teething Discomfort Too
Teething pain is not a preserve of human babies. Kittens experience this kind of discomfort too. And they exhibit nearly the same behaviors typical of a teething baby.
Compulsive chewing is the signature symptom of teething in kittens. You may also observe excessive drooling, a reluctance to eat or drink, and unexplained nervousness.
Unfortunately, there’s little you can do to prevent this inevitable biological process from running its course. Perhaps you can only help the teething kittens manage the discomfort in their jaws by getting them a soft chew toy. This also ensures the cats don’t end up chewing on your furniture and upholstery.
Fact #5: Kittens Stay With Their Milk Teeth for Just Six Weeks
A kitten will have grown all his deciduous teeth by the sixth week. However, the cat will only stay with these teeth for the next six weeks.
Kittens will typically start losing their baby teeth around 3 – 4 months. The milk incisors normally fall off first. Canines and pre-molars follow in that order.
Like human babies, a kitten may lose his deciduous teeth while eating or chewing objects. Some cats will swallow their teeth while others will spit these hollow shells on the floor.
Fact #6: A Kitten’s Baby Teeth May Not Fall Off Like They’re Supposed To
There are situations where some of a kitten’s milk teeth remain attached to the jawline as others are falling off. This condition is known as retained deciduous teeth.
Without timely interventions, retained deciduous teeth can cause serious damage to the permanent teeth emerging from a cat’s jaws. Therefore, it’s recommended to whisk your cat off to the vet to have the remaining baby teeth safely extracted.
Fact #7: An Adult Cat Has Only Two Fewer Teeth Than an Adult Human
Humans have 32 permanent teeth while cats have 30. That’s interesting when you consider a cat’s relatively smaller mouth compared to ours.
The number of permanent teeth in cats is the same for all cat breeds. It’s also the same for domesticated and feral cats.
Fact #8: Cats Can Lose Their Permanent Teeth for Various Reasons
Many oral and dental diseases in humans afflict cats too. Notable mentions include gingivitis and periodontitis.
These conditions are characterized by the inflammation of the gums and structures that hold the teeth firmly in their sockets. Symptoms include red and swollen gums, brown tartar, and loose teeth.
Certain physical and environmental factors may also result in tooth loss in cats. Examples include cat fights, chewing tough objects, and consuming overly acidic foods.
Fact #9: Cats Can Adapt Incredibly Well to Tooth Loss
Most cats will easily cope with tooth loss. Your feline friend will continue to eat normally regardless of the number and types of teeth he has lost.
That’s because cats don’t munch their foods like humans do. For the most part, they prefer to grab and tear their food before swallowing it whole.
Fact #10: Cats Deserve Regular Tooth Brushing Too
Regular brushing and flossing can go a long way in preventing tooth loss in cats.
Now, brushing a cat’s teeth can be a daunting process. That’s especially true for cats that haven’t been duly trained and socialized.
But with constant practice and positive reinforcement, your cat will eventually become agreeable to brushing. Remember to use a pet-safe toothbrush and toothpaste.
Besides regular tooth brushing, it’s also prudent to take your cat for regular dental checkups. These examinations might help pick up dental diseases early enough and treat them before they can potentially cause tooth loss.
There go our top ten fun facts about cat teeth. The key takeaway is that cat teeth share numerous similarities with human teeth. Therefore, they deserve the same amount of care, which largely entails regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkup.